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Birding Focus: Interesting stories of our feathered friends.

Various Seeds
© George H. Harrison

Seeds of Autumn

This is about the time of the year when most people think about feeding birds in their backyards. Iím not sure why this happens only in autumn, because feeding birds throughout the year has many rewards. Yet, autumn is the time when bird seed sales are held, and bird feeders are promoted most widely. Perhaps, itís the notion that birds need more help in cold weather, and therefore, bird feeding is more popular in winter.

Whatever the reason, the bird feeding season is on, and people are buying lots of bird seeds. The kinds of seeds you offer backyard birds makes a difference, because all birds donít eat the same foods. If there is one kind of seed that is most attractive to the greatest number of backyard birds, it would be sunflower in any form. Sunflower seeds are relished by finches, grosbeaks, cardinals, jays, and even some species of woodpeckers.

The two most popular forms of sunflower seeds for birds are the black oil sunflower seed, which is in the shell, and the hulled (medium cracked) sunflower seed, which is out of the shell. If I could feed only one kind of bird food in my backyard, it would be hulled sunflower seeds.

Other popular seeds for finches, include niger (thistle), also spelled nyjer, a tiny black seed that is offered in a tube feeder with tiny port holes.

Safflower seeds are a favorite among cardinals, doves, and house finches. And the various wild bird seed mixes are eaten by sparrows, doves, juncos, and blackbirds.

-- George H. Harrison